Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton took his eighth win with triumph at the Japanese Grand Prix, but a bad crash for Jules Bianchi brought out the red flags and a race ended nine laps early.
The race started behind the safety car as conditions were deemed unsafe to start by conventional methods with the spray kicked up by the cars making visibility near enough zero.
After the safety car came in, Nico Rosberg held the lead and stretched away from the Brit with the wet tyres just about lasting out even though Jenson Button started setting fastest lap after fastest lap on the intermediates.
That speed meant most of the grid decided to pit for inters as well, leading to some interesting battles between the Williams’ of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa and the Red Bull’s of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel.
Worth mentioning was the retirement for Fernando Alonso before the race even started after his Ferrari ‘switched off’ during the race build up.
The one to watch in that battle for fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh was Ricciardo. The move pulled round the outside of Bottas in the esses showed that the aerodynamics of the Red Bull is one of the stronger suits of the car.
At that point, it was almost easy to forget that two team mates were fighting for the lead of the race and the championship as Hamilton slowly caught up to the back of his German team mate before making an audacious pass into the first turn to ensure that his extra speed wasn’t lost by being stuck under the rear wing of his team mate.
Going strongly when the rain started to come down again at about the half way mark was Button, known as somewhat of a maestro in changeable conditions, who sat comfortably in third place for a time – not able to haul in the leading pair but not being under immediate danger by the Red Bulls behind.
However, because of his earlier stop it meant that going through the second cycle of stops his tyres wouldn’t be as fresh come the end of the race and that preservation and eventual degradation ended up being his downfall as both Vettel and Ricciardo got past him to relegate the McLaren down to a still strong fifth place.
Now, unfortunately, came the drama that would overshadow the race. Adrian Sutil in the Sauber aquaplaned off the track going into the Dunlop curve and a lap later Jules Bianchi in the Marussia aquaplaned off at the same point and collided with the recovery vehicles tending to the Sauber.
That led to an immediate red flag as rescue teams took care of the Frenchman who was unconscious as he left the circuit, and the thoughts of everyone at The Checkered Flag are with both Jules and his family at this time.